Even as theaters in some areas begin to open their doors under limited, socially distant conditions, there is still some good viewing fare available at home through various streaming services. Here’s a brief list of films — including one about Knights of Columbus founder Father Michael J. McGivney — that have received praise from reliable Catholic reviewers. They are presently accessible on Amazon Prime Video and other services.
Fatima made history in late August by becoming the first film to have its official premiere simultaneously in theaters and via multiple streaming services. It’s a beautiful and touching portrayal of the drama surrounding the appearance of the Virgin Mary to three young children in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917, culminating in the spectacular and widely reported “Miracle of the Sun.”
In his review published in The Denver Catholic, managing editor Aaron Lambert writes of the miracle: “Many hearts were changed that day, as was the world itself, and the message of Our Lady of Fatima has endured through the years. In fact, in today’s climate of civil unrest and stark political divisions, perhaps Fatima is just the film people need to see to remind them that although history may repeat itself, prayer and faith makes all things new.”
Most delightful is the complexity with which the lead characters and the way the apparitions and miracle are revealed in naturalistic ways, with a minimum of special effects. See it in the theater if it plays nearby, but renting it from your streaming service for watching at home is still money well spent.
This fine documentary of more than a decade ago takes on renewed relevance with the announcement of Father Michael McGivney’s beatification to take place in late October of this year. Quite familiar to brother Knights of Columbus as the founder of the Order, Father McGivney deserves to become better known to Catholics throughout the United States and beyond.
“This film offers a rare glimpse into the life of an extraordinary priest and visionary leader,” says a review of the film by Salt & Light TV. “From defending the persecuted Church to protecting widows and orphans, Father Michael McGivney celebrates the triumphs and tribulations of a priest who may very well be America’s first canonized parish priest.”
Find it on Formed, Amazon’s Prime Video and other streaming services.
In additional to this classic film on Father McGivney, a new documentary on the founder of the Knights of Columbus was made in honor of his upcoming beatification. Join us for an exclusive streaming event of the new film on Oct. 25, at 8 p.m. ET on the Knights of Columbus YouTube channel.
Maggie Gallagher, a Catholic writer and founder of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, praises Peanut Butter Falcon as “the best buddy movie since The Lion King.” Zack Gottsagen, an actor who has Down syndrome, co-stars with Shia LeBeouf as Zak and Tyler, two young men who learn about life, love and manhood while on the run — Zak from the nursing home where he was abandoned, Tyler from a brush with the law.
“It is a great film that asks us to consider: What makes us worth loving?” Gallagher writes. “The profound commitment of the filmmakers and the actors, to the equal dignity of every human soul is what makes this film shimmer. … This deeply told story will make you cry. It will make you laugh. It will challenge your own sense of who you are and who God wants you to be.”
Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles liked this film, which is based on a novel by Donna Tartt. Barron said that Tartt “is not only a great novelist but also a Catholic, and I think her Catholicism comes through especially clearly in the spiritual lesson of this story.” He does caution, however, that one probably must read the 800-page novel first in order to take in the “meditative themes” that the film can’t quite convey.
The complex, character-filled plot begins when young Theo’s mother is killed in a terrorist attack at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Theo reacts by stealing his mother’s favorite painting. His adventures in fleeing with the art take him to dark places and odd friendships as he partners with a shady character in restoring and reselling antiques. There is moral grittiness in the film, and it’s certainly not for all tastes (it’s rated R), but in the end there are glimmers of redemption and hopes for restoration of broken relationships.
Father Cornelius O’Mahony recently took in Mr. Jones and wrote about it in bulletin of St. Andrew Parish in Oakville, Ontario, where he is pastor. It is also the home parish of Knights of Columbus Marian Council 3881.
The film relates the true story of Welsh reporter Gareth Jones and New York Times reporter Walter Duranty who write from Russia in the 1930s. Jones discovers the truth regarding a deadly famine in Ukraine caused by Stalin’s collectivist policies and dares to break the story; Duranty, a Soviet apologist who enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle in Moscow, assisted the cover-up through journalistic whitewash.
Mr. Jones is a “powerful story” about “what happens when you choose to look the other way and ‘forget’ what you have heard,” writes Father O’Mahony. “It is a tough film to watch, but it has so much to say about the dilemma we find ourselves in when we forget to ask the bigger questions and look for the bias.”
Originally published in a weekly edition of Knightline, a resource for K of C leaders and members. Access Knightline’s archives
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